I am now officially halfway through my term as President and I have to say the time has really flown by!  I have nothing but good things to say about the role – I get to see and do some very interesting things and meet some amazing people along the way. Above all, I have been continually impressed by the dedication, pride and professionalism of our members. ICorr is a very special institution and I feel a strong sense of responsibility to maintain and enhance this wherever possible.

It was a pleasure to attend the AGM at the end of October in the rather grand surroundings of the Birmingham Council Chamber, to which we have become accustomed in recent years. The meeting was hosted by the Midlands Branch and was preceded by an impressive talks on cathodic protection from Markus Büchler, Trevor Osborne, Brian Wyatt and Chris Wozencroft. This very distinguished list of speakers was undoubtedly a major factor in the large turnout of over 80 people, which was great to see. Many thanks are due to Bill Whittaker and the Midlands Branch committee for their organisation of the event.

A number of important changes to our categories of membership were ratified at the AGM. The first was to introduce a new category of Honorary Life Membership. From July next year, all members over the age of 70 with at least 35 years of membership will be automatically entitled to free subscription for life through elevation to the category of Honorary Life Member. Those who do not meet the minimum years of membership requirement will still be able to attain Honorary Life Member status via a one-off payment of twice the annual subscription fee (for members over the age of 70) or three times the annual subscription fee (for members over the age of 65).

All of these new options will be laid out in detail in your subscription renewal letter next year and will apply to all categories of membership. We hope that this will make it much easier for members to retain links with the Institute after retirement, when membership subscription fees may understandably drop down the list of priorities. Honorary Life Membership is also a fitting recognition of the contribution to the Institute made by our members over their entire career.

The second change was to rename Individual Members (formerly Ordinary Members) as Affiliates, which was deemed necessary in order to resolve the perennial confusion with Professional Membership. Affiliate is an important entry-level category of membership for the Institute, comprising almost one third of all members, and it is vital that we continue to highlight the opportunities for career development and progression that the Institute offers. Networking, training and accreditation rank highly among these, and we are working hard to enhance these benefits. We are particularly keen to increase the number of Affiliates progressing to Professional Membership, which can be achieved after 15 years of field experience, together with additional training and accreditation. If you know someone in this position, please do not hesitate to give them a nudge in this direction; more details can be found on the Membership section of the ICorr website.

The AGM also saw the election of our Officers and Council members for 2019-20 and I would like to congratulate all concerned and thank them again for their valuable contribution to the Institute. In particular, we are pleased to welcome Caroline Allanach as a newly co-opted member of Council. Caroline has been doing a great job in supporting the activities of our Young ICorr Chair, Simon Bowcock, and we are looking forward to the fresh perspective she will bring to Council.  I also had the pleasure to present David Harvey with Honorary Life Fellowship in recognition of all the hard work he has done for the Institute.

May I take this opportunity to wish you and your loved ones a very happy Christmas and a prosperous New Year.

Icorr President, Gareth Hinds